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Daily Trip Log

By Peter Brewster

The mists of time

Thursday, July 19, 2001


 OPPOSITE TALLEK ARM, NACHVAK FJORD: After being generous with her wonders yesterday -- polar bears, caribou, whales -- Labrador chose weather as the big show today.

  It has rained since breakfast, draining down out of a soggy sky.

  But that is only fair, given the three magical days that took care of the potentially dangerous and trying ocean part of our trip.

  Even bathed in mist, however, this fjord has so much for the eye. Mountains rising up out of the water disappear then reappear behind wreaths of gray. At times it's all too much to absorb.

HACC Chief Guide Geoffrey Peake is also a Master Baker. Here he checks out some of this morning's creations which will be used for lunch over the next two days. Michael Peake photo

 Take lunch. We did -- beside a 500-foot high waterfall cascading down a wall of rock, touching here and there to form a chute, then dropping free and clear to the next contact point.

  At the time it was raining hard, a cold rain driving off the ocean. The temperature was about 10C (50F) but it felt considerably colder.

  Geoffrey quickly rigged a tarp over a high rock, with paddles at the corners, so cheese, peanut butter and jam could be applied to his fresh bread without unwanted additional moisture. Out came a stove, and in no time rough and ready grilled cheese sandwiches appeared. Hot chocolate washed it down, along with water from the falls.

  It's raining now, here where Nachvak divides into two long skinny arms.

 Tomorrow we will follow Tallek to its head, to where the Palmer River flows in.

 Tonight, though, we sleep on a little bit of history. It's the site of an old Hudson Bay Company post, a lonely, incredibly isolated bastion of commerce that operated from Victorian times through to 1906.

  Dillon Wallace stopped in here in February of that year, returning from his much-documented race with Mina Hubbard to follow in her late husband Leonidas's footsteps to Ungava Bay.

  Mina had gone home by boat. Wallace waited until freeze-up to head back to civilization going in the opposite direction that we are, i.e. up the Korok and down the Palmer rivers.

  I understand it was a two-man post throughout most of its life. You just have to hope they got along.

  The view down Tallek arm changes every few minutes, with mist swirling around the jagged pillars of the mountain on its southern shore. Further down, towering rock formations crowd in on the water as the arm narrows.

  That much we can see. Tomorrow will reveal the rest.

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